UPDATE: Joaquin Castro, who is also considering running for Cornyn's Senate seat, released this statement after Hegar's announcement:
Texans should be proud that MJ is running in 2020. She brings a ton of great qualities to the race and will provide a unique perspective that all of us ought to take seriously - especially Washington John Cornyn.
As we said last week, the era of uncontested primaries in Texas is over. Every candidate in this race has announced on their own timeline and is making their own case to the voters of Texas. Joaquin is no different. The last two campaigns he has fought, and won, started with a tough primary.
The stakes are too high for us to lose focus on what really matters right now, and that's defeating Trump's number one cheerleader and enabler in Texas, Washington John Cornyn. It's time we had a Senator that stands up for Texas, instead of standing down to Donald Trump.”
M.J. Hegar, a tattooed, motorcycle riding, decorated Afghan War helicopter pilot, today announced her intention to challenge Republican Sen. John Cornyn in next year's election, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Hegar, whose memoir is called 'Shoot Like a Girl' was a barrier breaker in the United States Air Force, flying a Medevac Chopper in Afghanistan and being shot down by the Taliban. For that mission, Hegar joined Amelia Earhart as one of the few women to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor.
Hegar was received the Democratic nomination for Congress last year, and narrowly lost to Republican John Cornyn in a safe Republican Central Texas district that includes Fort Hood.
“Washington, still has a lot of listening to do, and I’m gonna make sure they hear us,” Hegar says in the video. “Texans deserve a Senator who represents our values: strength, courage, independence, putting Texas first," Hegar says in a video released to announce her candidacy.
Hegar was one of several women in the military who successfully sued to overturn the Combat Exclusion Act, which had barred many women from the key combat assignments needed to advance military careers. She retired from the Air Force as a Major.
Hegar made national news with her unconventional ads and her opennesss during her 2018 campaign, talking about how one of her tattoos is there to cover up a shrapnel wound suffered in Afghanistan.
She says her loss to Carter will not impact her Senate campaign.
"I didn't get a pilot's slot my first time trying," she said. "But we Texans don't give up easy, and everything we have accomplished is just the beginning."
Her announcement comes ahead of a possible announcement by San Antonio Congressman Joaquin Castro, who has said he is considering a Senate run. But Castro would have to give up a safe House seat which he could conceivably occupy for the coming thirty years, and would also have to give up an influential position as Chair of the House Hispanic Caucus to take, if successful, a 'back bench' seat in the Senate.
Cornyn will not be easy for the Democrats to defeat. Elected easily to three terms, Cornyn is a former San Antonio State District Judge, Texas Attorney General, and former Texas Supreme Court Justice.